少年派的奇幻漂流 Chapter 7
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Chapter 7
It was my luck to have a few good teachers in my youth, men and women who came into my dark head and lit a match. One of these was Mr. Satish Kumar, my biology teacher at Petit Seminaire and an active Communist who was always hoping Tamil Nadu would stop electing movie stars and go the way of Kerala. He had a most peculiar1 appearance. The top of his head was bald and pointy, yet he had the most impressive jowls I have ever seen, and his narrow shoulders gave way to a massive stomach that looked like the base of a mountain, except that the mountain stood in thin air, for it stopped abruptly2 and disappeared horizontally into his pants. It's a mystery to me how his stick-like legs supported the weight above them, but they did, though they moved in surprising ways at times, as if his knees could bend in any direction. His construction was geometric: he looked like two triangles, a small one and a larger one, balanced on two parallel lines. But organic, quite warty3 actually, and with sprigs of black hair sticking out of his ears. And friendly. His smile seemed to take up the whole base of his triangular4 head.
Mr. Kumar was the first avowed5 atheist6 I ever met. I discovered this not in the classroom but at the zoo. He was a regular visitor who read the labels and descriptive notices in their entirety and approved of every animal he saw. Each to him was a triumph of logic7 and mechanics, and nature as a whole was an exceptionally fine illustration of science. To his ears, when an animal felt the urge to mate, it said "Gregor Mendel," recalling the father of genetics, and when it was time to show its mettle8, "Charles Darwin," the father of natural selection, and what we took to be bleating9, grunting10, hissing11, snorting, roaring, growling12, howling, chirping13 and screeching14 were but the thick accents of foreigners. When Mr. Kumar visited the zoo, it was to take the pulse of the universe, and his stethoscopic mind always I confirmed to him that everything was in order, that everything was order. He left the zoo feeling scientifically refreshed.
The first time I saw his triangular form teetering and tottering15 about the zoo, I was shy to approach him. As much as I liked him as a teacher, he was a figure of authority, and I, a subject. I was a little afraid of him. I observed him at a distance. He had just come to the rhinoceros16 pit. The two Indian rhinos17 were great attractions at the zoo because of the goats. Rhinos are social animals, and when we got Peak, a young wild male, he was showing signs of suffering from isolation18 and he was eating less and less. As a stopgap measure, while he searched for a female, Father thought of seeing if Peak couldn't be accustomed to living with goats. If it worked, it would save a valuable animal. If it didn't, it would only cost a few goats. It worked marvellously. Peak and the herd19 of goats became inseparable, even when Summit arrived. Now, when the rhinos bathed, the goats stood around the muddy pool, and when the goats ate in their corner, Peak and Summit stood next to them like guards. The living arrangement was very popular with the public.
Mr. Kumar looked up and saw me. He smiled and, one hand holding onto the railing, the other waving, signalled me to come over.
"Hello, Pi," he said.
"Hello, sir. It's good of you to come to the zoo."
"I come here all the time. One might say it's my temple. This is interesting..." He was indicating the pit. "If we had politicians like these goats and rhinos we'd have fewer problems in our country. Unfortunately we have a prime minister who has the armour20 plating of a rhinoceros without any of its good sense."
I didn't know much about politics. Father and Mother complained regularly about Mrs. Gandhi, but it meant little to me. She lived far away in the north, not at the zoo and not in Pondicherry. But I felt I had to say something.
"Religion will save us," I said. Since when I could remember, religion had been very close to my heart.
"Religion?" Mr. Kumar grinned broadly. "I don't believe in religion. Religion is darkness."
Darkness? I was puzzled. I thought, Darkness is the last thing that religion is. Religion is light. Was he testing me? Was he saying, "Religion is darkness," the way he sometimes said in class things like "Mammals lay eggs," to see if someone would correct him? ("Only platypuses21, sir.")
"There are no grounds for going beyond a scientific explanation of reality and no sound reason for believing anything but our sense experience. A clear intellect, close attention to detail and a little scientific knowledge will expose religion as superstitious22 bosh. God does not exist."
Did he say that? Or am I remembering the lines of later atheists? At any rate, it was something of the sort. I had never heard such words.
"Why tolerate darkness? Everything is here and clear, if only we look carefully."
He was pointing at Peak. Now though I had great admiration23 for Peak, I had never thought of a rhinoceros as a light bulb.
He spoke24 again. "Some people say God died during the Partition in 1947. He may have died in 1971 during the war. Or he may have died yesterday here in Pondicherry in an orphanage25. That's what some people say, Pi. When I was your age, I lived in bed, racked with polio. I asked myself every day, 'Where is God? Where is God? Where is God?' God never came. It wasn't God who saved me - it was medicine. Reason is my prophet and it tells me that as a watch stops, so we die. It's the end. If the watch doesn't work properly, it must be fixed26 here and now by us. One day we will take hold of the means of production and there will be justice on earth."
This was all a bit much for me. The tone was right-loving and brave - but the details seemed bleak27. I said nothing. It wasn't for fear of angering Mr. Kumar. I was more afraid that in a few words thrown out he might destroy something that I loved. What if his words had the effect of polio on me? What a terrible disease that must be if it could kill God in a man.
He walked off, pitching and rolling in the wild sea that was the steady ground. "Don't forget the test on Tuesday. Study hard, 3.14!"
"Yes, Mr. Kumar."
He became my favourite teacher at Petit Seminaire and the reason I studied zoology28 at the University of Toronto. I felt a kinship with him. It was my first clue that atheists are my brothers and sisters of a different faith, and every word they speak speaks of faith. Like me, they go as far as the legs of reason will carry them - and then they leap.
I'll be honest about it. It is not atheists who get stuck in my craw, but agnostics. Doubt is useful for a while. We must all pass through the garden of Gethsemane. If Christ played with doubt, so must we. If Christ spent an anguished29 night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken30 me?" then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin31 to choosing immobility as a means of transportation.

    我很幸运,年轻的时候遇到了儿位好老师,这些男女老师走进我黑暗的头脑,划亮了一根火柴。其中一位老师就是萨蒂什·库马尔先生,他是我在小修院的生物老 师,也是个活跃的共产主义者,总是希望泰米尔纳德能停止选举电影明星,而走喀拉拉邦的道路。他的长相十分奇特。他光秃秃的头顶是尖的,却长着我所见过的最 让人难忘的双下巴,窄窄的肩膀陡然让位于像一座山一样巨大的肚子,只是这座山是立在空中的,因为它戛然而止,垂直消失在裤子里。让我苦恼的是,他那两条细 棍子一样的腿是怎么支撑住上面的重量的,但它们撑住了,尽管有时候移动的样子令人惊奇,好像他的膝盖能向任何方向弯曲。他的身体是由几何图形构成的:他看 上去就像一大一小两个三角形放在两条平行线上。但他却是个有机体,实际上很像二个大瘤,一根根黑毛像小树枝一样从耳朵里伸出来。而且友好。
    库马尔先生是我遇见的第一个公开承认自己是无神论者的人。我不是在课堂上,而是在动物园里发现这一点的。他是动物园的常客,每一张标签和标签上的描述性简 介他都读,每一只他所看见的动物他都表示赞许。对他来说,每一只动物都是逻辑学和力学昀胜利,整个大自然就是对科学的绝妙解释。在他听来,当一只动物有了 交配的欲望时,它想起遗传学之父,于是说:“格累戈尔·孟德尔’’,在显示本领时说的是自然选择之父“查尔斯·达尔文”,而我们以为的咩咩声、咕噜声、嘶 嘶声、鼓鼻声、咆哮声、吼叫声、号叫声、唧唧声和尖叫声仅仅是外国人的浓重口音。
    第一次看见他的三角形身体在动物园里摇摇晃晃、步履蹒跚地走来走去时,我很害羞,不敢靠近他。尽管我喜欢他这位老师,但他毕竟是拥有权力的人物,而我,是 个臣民。我有点儿怕他。我在离他有一段距离的地方看着他。他刚刚来到犀牛栏前。因为那几只山羊,这两头印度犀牛在动物园非常引人注目。犀牛是群居动物,当 年幼的野生雄性犀牛皮克来的时候,他表现出正在经受孤独的折磨的迹象,吃得越来越少。作为权宜之计,在寻找雌性犀牛的同时,父亲想看看皮克是否能够习惯和 山羊一起生活。如果这能行,就能拯救一只珍稀动物。如果不行,那只是牺牲几只山羊而已。这个做法获得了极大成功。皮克和那群山羊变得难舍难分,甚至萨咪特 来后也是如此。现在,犀牛洗澡时,山羊就围成一圈站在泥潭旁边,当山羊在角落进食时,皮克和萨咪特就像卫兵一样站在它们旁边。这样的生活安排很受游客欢 迎。
    他又说话了。“有人说上帝在1947年瓜分期间死了。他可能在1971年战争期间死了。或者也许他昨天在本地治里一家孤儿院里死了。有些人就是那么说的, 派。我像你这么大酌时候,整天躺在床上,遭受着小儿麻痹症的折磨。每天我都问自己:"上帝在哪里?上帝在哪里‘?上帝在哪里?"上帝一直没有来。救我的不 是上帝?而是医药。理性是我的先知,它告诉我就像手表会停一样,我们也会死。生命结束了。如果表走得不准,我们必须修理它,就在这儿,就在现在一总有一天 我们会控制生产方式,地球上就会有公平了。”
    老实说,让我生气的不是无神论者,而是不可知论者。有一段时间怀疑是有用的。我们都必须经过客西马尼花园。(<圣经>中耶稣蒙难的地方。)如 果耶稣心存怀疑,那么我们一定也是如此。如果耶稣整整一夜都在痛苦地祈祷,如果他在十字架上大声叫喊:“我的上帝,我的上帝,你为什么抛弃了我?”那么我 们青定也可以怀疑。但是我们必须继续向前。选择怀疑作为生活哲学就像选择静止作为交通方式。


1 peculiar cinyo     
  • He walks in a peculiar fashion.他走路的样子很奇特。
  • He looked at me with a very peculiar expression.他用一种很奇怪的表情看着我。
2 abruptly iINyJ     
  • He gestured abruptly for Virginia to get in the car.他粗鲁地示意弗吉尼亚上车。
  • I was abruptly notified that a half-hour speech was expected of me.我突然被通知要讲半个小时的话。
3 warty 10645af5dab7882d561efe6172133489     
  • Warty recurrences occurred in the perineal wound within a month of surgery. 局部切除术后一个月内伤口疣体复发。 来自互联网
  • African wild swine with warty protuberances on the face and large protruding tusks. 在脸部和突出的长牙上有疣样隆起的非洲野猪。 来自互联网
4 triangular 7m1wc     
  • It's more or less triangular plot of land.这块地略成三角形。
  • One particular triangular relationship became the model of Simone's first novel.一段特殊的三角关系成了西蒙娜第一本小说的原型。
5 avowed 709d3f6bb2b0fff55dfaf574e6649a2d     
adj.公开声明的,承认的v.公开声明,承认( avow的过去式和过去分词)
  • An aide avowed that the President had known nothing of the deals. 一位助理声明,总统对这些交易一无所知。
  • The party's avowed aim was to struggle against capitalist exploitation. 该党公开宣称的宗旨是与资本主义剥削斗争。 来自《简明英汉词典》
6 atheist 0vbzU     
  • She was an atheist but now she says she's seen the light.她本来是个无神论者,可是现在她说自己的信仰改变了。
  • He is admittedly an atheist.他被公认是位无神论者。
7 logic j0HxI     
  • What sort of logic is that?这是什么逻辑?
  • I don't follow the logic of your argument.我不明白你的论点逻辑性何在。
8 mettle F1Jyv     
  • When the seas are in turmoil,heroes are on their mettle.沧海横流,方显出英雄本色。
  • Each and every one of these soldiers has proved his mettle.这些战士个个都是好样的。
9 bleating ba46da1dd0448d69e0fab1a7ebe21b34     
v.(羊,小牛)叫( bleat的现在分词 );哭诉;发出羊叫似的声音;轻声诉说
  • I don't like people who go around bleating out things like that. 我不喜欢跑来跑去讲那种蠢话的人。 来自辞典例句
  • He heard the tinny phonograph bleating as he walked in. 他步入室内时听到那架蹩脚的留声机在呜咽。 来自辞典例句
10 grunting ae2709ef2cd9ee22f906b0a6a6886465     
  • He pulled harder on the rope, grunting with the effort. 他边用力边哼声,使出更大的力气拉绳子。
  • Pigs were grunting and squealing in the yard. 猪在院子里哼哼地叫个不停。
11 hissing hissing     
n. 发嘶嘶声, 蔑视 动词hiss的现在分词形式
  • The steam escaped with a loud hissing noise. 蒸汽大声地嘶嘶冒了出来。
  • His ears were still hissing with the rustle of the leaves. 他耳朵里还听得萨萨萨的声音和屑索屑索的怪声。 来自汉英文学 - 春蚕
12 growling growling     
n.吠声, 咆哮声 v.怒吠, 咆哮, 吼
  • We heard thunder growling in the distance. 我们听见远处有隆隆雷声。
  • The lay about the deck growling together in talk. 他们在甲板上到处游荡,聚集在一起发牢骚。
13 chirping 9ea89833a9fe2c98371e55f169aa3044     
鸟叫,虫鸣( chirp的现在分词 )
  • The birds,chirping relentlessly,woke us up at daybreak. 破晓时鸟儿不断吱吱地叫,把我们吵醒了。
  • The birds are chirping merrily. 鸟儿在欢快地鸣叫着。
14 screeching 8bf34b298a2d512e9b6787a29dc6c5f0     
v.发出尖叫声( screech的现在分词 );发出粗而刺耳的声音;高叫
  • Monkeys were screeching in the trees. 猴子在树上吱吱地叫着。
  • the unedifying sight of the two party leaders screeching at each other 两党党魁狺狺对吠的讨厌情景
15 tottering 20cd29f0c6d8ba08c840e6520eeb3fac     
adj.蹒跚的,动摇的v.走得或动得不稳( totter的现在分词 );踉跄;蹒跚;摇摇欲坠
  • the tottering walls of the castle 古城堡摇摇欲坠的墙壁
  • With power and to spare we must pursue the tottering foe. 宜将剩勇追穷寇。 来自《现代汉英综合大词典》
16 rhinoceros tXxxw     
  • The rhinoceros has one horn on its nose.犀牛鼻子上有一个角。
  • The body of the rhinoceros likes a cattle and the head likes a triangle.犀牛的形体像牛,头呈三角形。
17 rhinos 195f9b9fd8128a29dac773077994698f     
  • There are many reports of people taming and even training Indian rhinos. 有许多关于人们驯养甚至训练印度犀牛的记载。 来自辞典例句
  • The rhinos had fed during the night in the rice fields of these villagers. 犀牛夜里在这些村民的庄稼地里也已吃饱了。 来自辞典例句
18 isolation 7qMzTS     
  • The millionaire lived in complete isolation from the outside world.这位富翁过着与世隔绝的生活。
  • He retired and lived in relative isolation.他退休后,生活比较孤寂。
19 herd Pd8zb     
  • She drove the herd of cattle through the wilderness.她赶着牛群穿过荒野。
  • He had no opinions of his own but simply follow the herd.他从无主见,只是人云亦云。
20 armour gySzuh     
  • His body was encased in shining armour.他全身披着明晃晃的甲胄。
  • Bulletproof cars sheathed in armour.防弹车护有装甲。
21 platypuses ef6d2b62ff8fb88be18f72f90e02c299     
n.鸭嘴兽( platypus的名词复数 )
  • Like humans, platypuses carry an X and a Y chromosome. 鸭嘴兽跟人类一样,也有X和Y染色体。 来自互联网
22 superstitious BHEzf     
  • They aim to deliver the people who are in bondage to superstitious belief.他们的目的在于解脱那些受迷信束缚的人。
  • These superstitious practices should be abolished as soon as possible.这些迷信做法应尽早取消。
23 admiration afpyA     
  • He was lost in admiration of the beauty of the scene.他对风景之美赞不绝口。
  • We have a great admiration for the gold medalists.我们对金牌获得者极为敬佩。
24 spoke XryyC     
n.(车轮的)辐条;轮辐;破坏某人的计划;阻挠某人的行动 v.讲,谈(speak的过去式);说;演说;从某种观点来说
  • They sourced the spoke nuts from our company.他们的轮辐螺帽是从我们公司获得的。
  • The spokes of a wheel are the bars that connect the outer ring to the centre.辐条是轮子上连接外圈与中心的条棒。
25 orphanage jJwxf     
  • They dispensed new clothes to the children in the orphanage.他们把新衣服发给孤儿院的小孩们。
  • They gave the proceeds of the sale to the orphanage.他们把销售的收入给了这家孤儿院。
26 fixed JsKzzj     
  • Have you two fixed on a date for the wedding yet?你们俩选定婚期了吗?
  • Once the aim is fixed,we should not change it arbitrarily.目标一旦确定,我们就不应该随意改变。
27 bleak gtWz5     
  • They showed me into a bleak waiting room.他们引我来到一间阴冷的会客室。
  • The company's prospects look pretty bleak.这家公司的前景异常暗淡。
28 zoology efJwZ     
  • I would like to brush up my zoology.我想重新温习一下动物学。
  • The library didn't stock zoology textbooks.这家图书馆没有动物学教科书。
29 anguished WzezLl     
  • Desmond eyed her anguished face with sympathy. 看着她痛苦的脸,德斯蒙德觉得理解。 来自《简明英汉词典》
  • The loss of her husband anguished her deeply. 她丈夫的死亡使她悲痛万分。 来自《现代英汉综合大词典》
30 Forsaken Forsaken     
adj. 被遗忘的, 被抛弃的 动词forsake的过去分词
  • He was forsaken by his friends. 他被朋友们背弃了。
  • He has forsaken his wife and children. 他遗弃了他的妻子和孩子。
31 akin uxbz2     
  • She painted flowers and birds pictures akin to those of earlier feminine painters.她画一些同早期女画家类似的花鸟画。
  • Listening to his life story is akin to reading a good adventure novel.听他的人生故事犹如阅读一本精彩的冒险小说。
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